Monday, September 29, 2008

Am I doing enough?

Okay, I'm going to try and run through what we do every day and if any one reads my blog that homeschools please tell me if it seems like we are doing enough! I have a Kindergartner and a 4th grader. Let me go ahead and note that I think one of the reasons why I think I may not be requiring enough is there is absolutely no whining, no bickering, no arguing, no crying, no fighting, etc. when it comes to schooling. Both boys absolutely love it. Isaac comments on a regular basis how much he likes school, how quickly it goes by, etc.

We start with calendar, I have a big calendar on the bulletin board and I just say today is Wednesday (I point to Wednesday) September (I point to September) 21 (I point to the number). Sometimes I'll say what day will it be tomorrow, or what day was it yesterday, or how many days do we have left in September. Obviously this is all for my Kindergartner.

Then I read the children 1 or 2 poems. Sometimes we talk about the meaning behind the poem. Sometimes we don't. At this point we are working through a book of Robert Louis Stephenson poems.

Then I pull out Hymn's For a Kid's Heart and we sing whatever Hymn we are working on. We sing all the verses until we all know them by heart.

Then we practice the memory verse that goes along with the Hymn we are learning.

For Bible we are going through all the major stories of the Bible using Exploring the Bible series. The kids usually draw a picture to illustrate the story we read that day and we listen to the story using The Bible Comes Alive series put out by Your Story Hour.

As far as the three R's go for my 4th grader this is what he does:

I have a Reason for Handwriting and he does one short lesson per day, it is about half a page of cursive and it probably takes him 8 minutes or so to complete. This is the only time he writes in cursive pretty much.

For Math he is doing Math U see and he watches the DVD for the lesson when applicable and does 2-3 practice pages a day. This usually takes him about 10-20 minutes.

For English we are using Learning Language Arts Through Literature and this has about 4 weekly lessons. The first day he copies a short paragraph. Then he proofreads and corrects it. The next 3 days he learns grammar from using that paragraph to draw from. This is pretty quick as well. Doesn't seem very challenging. Now this is the 3rd grade book. Since I haven't homeschooled Isaac up to this point I thought I would go ahead and use this one since it was given to me and see if it was too easy or too hard. For me it is tough because I'm not sure what he knows and what he doesn't know grammar wise. I sort of feel nervous to go up to the 4th grade because he may have gaps. But this takes about 10 minutes a day.

For spelling we are using Spelling Power plus any words he misspells at other times I add to a comprehensive list of words that he is learning. I will give him a quiz of the next set of words in his Spelling Power book. He tested at grade level for spelling. About every quiz he misses only one or two words. So I add those to the comprehensive list of words he is learning. I'll then give him about 5-10 words to write with markers (he enjoys doing this artistically) or write in sentences of both, or punch out on a play phone, etc. I'll test him on the same words about 4-5 times before I cross them out as already learned. This usually takes about 15 minutes a day.

So you see for these basic subjects it amounts to about an hour of work. It doesn't seem like a whole lot to me! ????

For my Kindergartner he is doing Math U See (he loves it), Teach your child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (He loves it), and Handwriting without Tears (He loves it). Because he is in Kindergarten I'm not real worried about him. The only thing I question with him is some of the other more fun subjects, have a tailored them too much to my 4th grader and he is missing out on the "fun" kindergarten stuff. Now I'll go over those subjects that I will call the "fun" subjects:

Geography: We have been reading a chapter or two a day of a book that is set in the country we are studying. Right now our focus is Europe and we read the book "Door in the Wall" about a little boy that gets injured right before he starts training to be a knight as a page. Before we started it we read a picture book by Gail Gibbons on knighthood. Now this doesn't have a lot to do with geography but it was fun and I knew my boys would be into it.

After we finished reading the book I pulled out our kids atlas and we read about the United Kingdom as this book was set in England. In our "book of countries and cultures" that is divided into continents, Isaac opened it up to Europe and wrote a few sentences about the United Kingdom including which countries made up the UK. Micah colored in a small map that I drew of the United Kingdom and then I wrote in the countries.

Tomorrow we will start Twenty and Ten that is set in France I believe. Because this book will take us about 6 days to complete I had planned to study along with reading this book a different country in Europe using the kids atlas each day. But now I'm wondering if deeper would be better than broader and if we shouldn't just focus on France? I just wonder how deep should I go with our geography study and I just sort of feel like I'm just deciding what I want to do with no real rhyme or reason to it, or rather no guidelines for me to go by. Which totally gives me an insecure feeling, like my kids may be getting a really weak education.

There are no work sheets and not a lot writing involved at all. I may have Isaac orally narrate back to me what I read. I don't often have him write much. This is also one of my concerns. Can you learn with the majority of your school work being read to you?

For Science we are studying insects. We are reading Jack's Insects. It's about some kids that actually get to go into a book about insects and talk to them and learn about them. What I've been doing is reading a chapter or so and then we will look up a picture of that insect that the characters were talking to/learning about and I'll have the boys draw a picture of that insect in their nature journals. We do science about 2 x per week and this is it. I have no textbook that I'm using or anything real scientific. I'm a little worried.

For history we are studying U.S. History. We started out with reading a picture book about Christopher Columbus and watching an awesome video about him. Then we went on to start "Stories of the Pilgrims". This basically add's a fictional narrative to the true historical events of the pilgrims quest for religious freedom and their journey to America. We have definitely learned a LOT about the pilgrims! But we have also been reading this book now for 9 weeks! So we aren't moving through it very quickly. I typically have Isaac narrate back to me what I read. I've got a plan for what we are going to do for the rest of American History if we can just get out of the Pilgrims book! It is mostly books that we will be reading. Again, no tests, no worksheets, not lots of writing, are they learning?

Then of course we do art study using an usborne book about art. It has been good. We probably look at this once a week, study a different artist and his style. Sometimes I'll have Isaac go to his Book of Centuries (I've posted on this previously) and find the appropriate century and write a few sentences about the artist. Maybe even sketch a copy of the work of art.

For Music study we started with studying Mozart but then I decided we should start at the basics so I got Story of the Orchestra. The boys are really enjoying this. We do this about once a week. Again I might have Isaac get out the Book of Centuries and write about what he learned in the appropriate century.

We also read a different book just for fun. We've read Harrow Sparrow about a bird family that witnesses some of Jesus's life and then his death and Resurrection (the kids all loved it), a book of Jesus' parables put into storybook format for kids (complete with adorable illustrations), and now we are reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the kids love this).

In the evenings we read aloud as a family a different book, typically one that is about a missionary. Right now we are reading aloud a book about George Muller. Oh my goodness, we are so encouraged by his life of faith! We all love this time!

Other than trying to remember to have Isaac practice piano and get beyond lesson 1 in the "Simply Music" Learn at Home piano program that is it! I also bought a program to teach Isaac (4th grader) to type but haven't seemed to have time to get it loaded on my computer and get him going with that.

It honestly all seems very easy to me, very manageable, not school like. It is mostly fun and the work that isn't as fun doesn't take long to complete and is very doable for both the boys. When I homeschooling Isaac for the first half of 1st grade things seemed harder than they do now. Of course I was using a formal curriculum (My father's World) at the time. I wonder if we were using a formal curriculum how much different it would be. Basically I came up with all that we are doing on my own and it is all stuff that interests me and kind of jives with my style so maybe that is why it seems so easy. But than again, I may be missing somethings we should be doing.

By the way, we usually do school from about 8:30-11:30 and then we read after lunch our history book and our read aloud and do science, art, or music after lunch from about 12:30-1:30. And that is it!



I'm an ordinary mom, said...

I honestly think your plan is great! If you are worried about the writing, as most mom's are, then have him write out his narrations from time to time.

Keep up the good work!

Ginny said...

Abby you crack me up! I could write what my kids do in school in about two paragraphs. Don't worry! Do you like Jack's Insects? I am not doing any science with Keats b/c he just doesn't care for those sorts of books like Seth always has, but I would like to find some way to sort of trick him into learning. I think he already does know a lot more than most kindergartners b/c he learns a lot from Seth, but still.